There is no strict limit to the amount someone can sue for after a car accident in Georgia. When a lawsuit is filed, it will ask for a certain amount of money as “damages.” This is supposed to pay for or offset all losses suffered, so the amount should reflect the total cost of the accident. But even if a lawsuit asks for a certain amount, the judge or jury may not actually award the whole amount. Any damage awards must be proven in court.
Georgia doesn’t have “damage caps” that limit the amount a court can award in a personal injury lawsuit. This means that in theory, there is no limit to what a judge or jury can award. This is one reason it is important to talk to a lawyer if you have been in a car accident.
What can an accident victim sue for?
In general, an accident victim in Georgia is entitled to recover 100% of his or her costs and damages from the driver who was at fault. There are several categories of damages that an injured person can ask for:
- Special damages including medical bills, prescription drugs, physical therapy, lost pay if you missed time from work, and the cost of repairing or replacing a car. A victim’s special damages must be supported by receipts and documents showing past costs and estimates of future ones.
- General damages, which are the way an accident affects victims’ quality of life. They include a broad category of losses known as “pain and suffering.” Pain and suffering includes physical pain, emotional injuries, the loss of enjoyment of life, the loss of full participation in marriage and family life, and similar losses. These losses are hard to place a value on, but in a severe case they can be far greater than the amount of special damages alone.
- Wrongful death damages may be sought by a close family member to recover the value of a deceased victim’s life.
- Punitive damages punish a driver who acted especially recklessly. Punitive damages are not available in most car accident cases, but they can be awarded if the driver at fault was under the influence of drugs and alcohol. Because punitive damages are meant to punish, the amount can vary depending on the drunk driver’s financial situation.
Do all car accidents lead to lawsuits?
No. In fact, most car accident claims are resolved without one. Most drivers have car insurance. In Georgia, the insurance company for the driver who was at fault is responsible for paying claims, up to the limits of the insurance policy. This means that almost all minor or moderate accidents are resolved through negotiations with the insurance company.
When a car accident does lead to a lawsuit, it is usually because of one of these factors:
- There is no insurance, or there isn’t enough insurance to cover all the injuries. Accident victims may have to sue the driver who was at fault to recover money.
- The insurance company refuses to negotiate. Insurance companies have all sorts of schemes to avoid paying out on claims. If they refuse to negotiate a fair settlement, a lawsuit may be the only option.
- Insurance company delays. In most cases, there is a two-year time limit for filing a lawsuit. If the insurance company delays, victims may get tired of waiting and decide to sue. This is especially true if the case is getting close to the deadline.
Should I file a lawsuit?
If you were injured in an accident, it’s usually best to go through the insurance claims process before filing a lawsuit. Lawsuits are slow and potentially expensive, and an insurance claim will usually get you money much faster than a lawsuit. And it’s a myth that the insurance company will offer you much more money if you threaten to sue.
The best way to maximize your chance for a strong financial recovery is to talk to car accident attorneys in Atlanta. A car accident lawyer can collect evidence to build a strong case, negotiate with insurance companies, and advise you on the risks and potential benefits of filing a lawsuit. Just having a lawyer on your side can often greatly increase the amount of money you receive.
Talk to an Atlanta Car Accident Lawyer for Free
If you have been injured in an accident, our lawyers are ready to help. We never charge you money unless we get money for you. Let us give you a free, no-obligation consultation to talk about your accident and explain whether you have a case. Call us at (404) 341-6555 or fill out the form to the right to get your free consultation today.